Gary/Chicago Airport runway expansion project delayed

3 July 2013 (Last Updated July 3rd, 2013 18:30)

Gary/Chicago International Airport has delayed the final phase of construction on its $166m runway expansion programme until September 2014 due to higher than expected ground contamination.

Gary/Chicago International Airport has delayed the final phase of construction on its $166m runway expansion programme until September 2014 due to higher than expected ground contamination.

The project started in May 2011, which is primarily funded by the Northwest Indiana Regional Development Authority (RDA) and the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), and involves the extension of the airport's main 7,000ft runway by 1,900ft.

Gary Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson said that all the involved parties are working together to tackle the problems quickly and effectively so that the final phase of construction can swiftly move forward.

"The City of Gary and Northwest Indiana have heavy industrial legacies, which bring a lot of sensitive and unexpected environmental issues to resolve," Wilson said.

The FAA, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Indiana Department of Environmental Management (IDEM) have collaborated with the City of Gary, the Airport Authority and the RDA to support environmental remediation schemes.

"All the involved parties are working together to tackle the problems quickly and effectively so that the final phase of construction can swiftly move forward."

RDA President and CEO Bill Hanna said that the expansion will be completed and will fuel economic growth in Gary and across the region.

"Delays are unfortunate but common on construction projects of this scope and complexity," Hanna said.

Originally scheduled to be completed in December 2013, the final phase of the project also involves relocating railroad bridges and vehicle overpasses, and dismantling a railroad track embankment.

Upon the completion of the project, the airport will be capable of handling 100,000 passengers and up to 539,000 passengers after regional airlines commence operations.

According to the airport, addressing environmental issues remains mandatory as the old navigational equipment at the airport has to be decommissioned and relocate aircraft navigational aids for the expanded runway.

In addition to the runway expansion project, an Ad Hoc committee had been setup, which received several responses from private sector interests to the airport's request for expressions of interest and qualifications (REIQ) for investing in the airport and the nearby area via a public-private partnership (P3).